Emerson students unite for Occupy Boston

by Beacon Staff • October 20, 2011

strongJackie Tempera, Beacon Staff/strong

Emma MacDonald sat at a table on the ninth floor of the Colonial building last night passionately reading aloud a Guardian article about the Occupy movement from her MacBook Pro. Her messy bun bounced on the top of her head as she pointed her fingers and articulated every word in the piece.

Around the marketing communication major, a group of 10 Emerson students who have been participating in Occupy Boston sat actively listening while munching on popcorn and mixing bowls of muffin and brownie dough that they plan to donate to Dewey Square protesters.

The gathering was the first of what is to become a weekly meeting of Emerson’s own Occupy branch, which will now commence on Sunday at 10 p.m.

MacDonald, who is an active participant in marches and protests associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement, serves as an administrator for the @OccupyBosGlobe Twitter page, and said she became involved in the protests through social media.

As she watched tweets about the 141 arrests in Boson’s Financial District Oct. 11, MacDonald said she felt a call to action, and went to participate in the protest, staying from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. that morning.

“I was sitting right here in this common room getting pissed off by what I saw on Twitter, so I decided to go down there,” said MacDonald in an interview.

Thus, MacDonald started the Occupy Emerson branch. She began the first get-together by asking the group why they decided to attend. Each student’s answer differed more wildly than the next, ranging from hoping to lower the costs of college, making change in arts education, and getting more school breaks, to the recent Bank of America debit fees and intervention in Sudan.

At the end of each call to action, MacDonald retook the floor to explain the chaotic nature of the group’s purpose. She said she believes that is the purpose of the Occupy movement; to begin an active discussion among protesters and draw attention.

“This is our generation’s movement,” shouted MacDonald as she openly cried in front of the group. “This is our Vietnam, our Civil Rights movement.”

College students have increasingly become more involved with the demonstrations against corporate greed and economic inequity that have now spread worldwide. On Saturday, hundreds of students rallied at Park Street and marched through downtown Boston.

At the meeting, Suzi Pietroluongo, a sophomore theater education major, emphasized the need of the Emerson students to raise money and help the Occupy protesters purchase necessary items for the upcoming winter months.

Demonstrators in New York, Boston, and other northern cities have vowed to camp out through the forthcoming frigid months.

Pietroluongo and the group decided to raise money to purchase a battery operated space heater to donate. Though they made no definite fundraising plans, the group said they hope to sell hemp bracelets to the student body.

MacDonald said her biggest frustration with the protest is people around her not understanding the nature of the group.

“You think our focus is confusing? Our government is confusing,” she said. “We want to expose Wall Street and its control over government.”

Peitroluongo, however, said she joined for more personal reasons.

“I heard a lot about it and knew it was something that is going to be printed in history books,” she said. “My kids will come home from school and ask questions about it and I wanted to be able to tell them I saw it.”

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